High school state championships are hard to come by, and if you don’t believe me just ask the folks at Twiggs County. That school has two state titles in its history, and they both came in baseball.
The Black Knights, as they were known at the time, captured the Class C crown in 1959 under the guidance of head coach Reese Perry, and they repeated three years later in 1962. Twiggs County had only been an actual school for about two years when the baseball team won in 1959, and that came about with the merger of Jeffersonville, Dry Branch and Danville high schools in 1957.
The first title came in Thomaston at the East Thomaston Ball Park with Twiggs County beating Plains 3-2 in the semifinals, and then it took care of Coosa 8-3 in the championship game, scoring five runs in the top of the seventh to break a tie a 3. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Charlie Thompson went the distance in both games, scattering six hits against Plains and four against Coosa. The Black Knights used the exact same lineup in both games. Dan Vaughan was the catcher, Gene Kitchens was at first, Jimmy Arnold at second, B.W. Phillips was the shortstop and Edgar Ross Hill at third, while Turner Wimberly, Wayne Holliday and Woodrow Little were the outfielders. Jimmy Dorsey, who pitched two no-hit games during the regular season, missed the playoffs after suffering a broken leg in the region playoffs.
The 1962 team also won its state title in Thomaston. Twiggs County defeated Hepzibah 8-2 in the tournament opener as Chipper Davidson allowed just three hits while striking out 10. Then the Black Knights beat Plains twice to take the crown. Johnny Woodward gave up just one hit in a 3-1 victory, and he started the second game but after a slow start, gave way to Davidson, who came on and recorded the 4-3 win while allowing only four hits.
The starters for Twiggs County in 1962 were catcher Billy Vaughn, first baseman Joe Mercer, second baseman L.R. Moore, shortstop Tommy Rogers, third baseman Davidson/Woodward, left fielder Johnny Wimberly, center fielder Steve Moore and right fielder Tommy Rozier.
But baseball didn’t end for the Twiggs County players at the end of the school year and the state tournaments. Many of them stayed together and played in the summer for the Twiggs Travelers, a semi-pro team that was managed by Ed Parker. The Travelers played community teams from small Middle Georgia towns like Dry Branch, Gordon, Pitts, Dexter, Eastman and Unadilla on Saturdays and Sundays. They also played a semi pro-team from Macon on occasion. Most of the Travelers’ home games were played in Dry Branch or at the field located on the corner of Highway 80 and Highway 358 in Danville.
There were no sponsors back in those days, and the teams had to supply all the essentials, including, balls, bats, bases, uniforms and even the umpires. John Arnold and Loff Fowler were the men in blue for many of the games. There were no major leaguers to be found playing in those contests, but Thompson reportedly did get a look from the Milwaukee Braves.
Community baseball teams started dying out in the late 1960s as slow-pitch softball took over, and when the schools integrated, Twiggs County changed its team nickname from Black Knights to Cobras. It is still looking for its next state championship.
Contact Bobby Pope at firstname.lastname@example.org